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Jude Clarke appreciates Gülsin Onay's sensitive, dynamic and impressive performance.

West Road Concet Hall: Beethoven Series: Review

Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay has been performing since she was...read more

Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay has been performing since she was just six – and it shows. Her piano recital at West Road yesterday evening, arranged by The New Europe Society, was a masterclass in expression, virtuosity and inspirational musicianship. The programme began with Beethoven's dynamic, diverse and geometric 32 Variations on an Original Theme in C minor. A fabulous introduction to the pianist's technique for those of us who had not heard her play before, the light and shade, subtlety and 'sturm und drang' of the different and often dramatically contrasting variations were effortlessly illuminated. Next was more Beethoven – this time the glorious Andante Favori, at times heart-wrenchingly beautiful, stirring and emotional. Gülsin has been awarded a State Medal in Poland in recognition of her exceptional Chopin interpretations, so it was a delight, next, to witness her performance of one of the composer's most technically challenging pieces, the Ballade No 3 in A flat major. Tightly structured and furiously performed, the piece, stirring and inspiring, perfectly illustrated the pianist's skills, its shift in pace and tone leaving the audience rapt. After the interval we were treated not only to the two further advertised pieces – Debussy's Masques, Ballade, Danse, effervescent and witty, and only suffering slightly from the technical hiccup caused by the pianist's tablet sheet music skipping a page (a graceful pause, a rueful smile, and then the performance continued, quickly regaining its momentum) and Cesar Franck's Prelude, Choral and Fugue – but also two wonderful encores. A truly generous end to this sensitive, rousing and impressive recital from a masterly performer.

Cambridge News, June 2016

Superb sense of cantabile playing

CD Recital: Liszt - Haydn - Schubert (Dorian Sono Luminus)

Onay’s approach to Schubert’s C-Minor Sonata, D 958, the...read more

Onay’s approach to Schubert’s C-Minor Sonata, D 958, the largest work on her interesting new Sono Luminus disc, tends toward the lyrical rather than the dramatic. Generally relaxed tempos allow her to bring out many intricacies of voice-leading that go unheard in more rushed readings. That said, the furious tarantella of the finale moves along at a terrific clip, its momentum never flagging. Throughout, the trademarks of Onay’s style—precise articulation, judicious pedaling, and extreme clarity—are everywhere in evidence. Her superb sense of cantabile playing also imbues Haydn’s F-Minor Variations. Here her interpretation strikes as ineffably French, more wistful than tragic, and always emotionally at one with the musical affects. Ultimately it is Onay’s unqualified emotional identification with the music she plays, conveyed with an honest and impeccable technique, that makes her performances so persuasive. One looks forward to hearing more from her.

Patrick Rucker, Fanfare, March 2012

Onay does her best work in the climactic chordal...read more

Onay does her best work in the climactic chordal runs and trills before the final section…Haydn’s F minor Andante with Variations stands out for Onay’s beautiful legato touch and supple handling of the composer’s increasingly elaborate right-hand arabesques. The engineering captures an attractive concert-hall ambience and the extensively detailed annotations couldn’t be better.

Jed Distler, Gramophone, April 2012

Recital - Deutschlandsberg Klavierarena

Gülsin Onay - Klavierabend

The Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay gave her third concert in...read more

The Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay gave her third concert in the Deutschlandsberg "Piano Arena" on Friday, 13 July. This elegant lady has the ability of creating a pleasant atmosphere the moment she steps onto the stage. Starting her programme with Beethoven's "Waldstein" Sonata, Gülsin Onay then continued with examples of the rhythmic works of her teacher A. Adnan Saygun, who died in 1991. After the interval she went on to the works of Chopin - a composer she interprets the best. We had other concerts in the same venue in recent months and we can discuss the stylistic, dynamic aspects and tempo choices of each interpreter. But it was totally different with Gülsin Onay. Upon hearing her, "Here is pure and true music!" thought the audience, which included many a German visitor, "This is how you play the piano. Without being ostentatious, avoiding superfluous bravado and eccentricity..." The Turkish pianist displayed her vivacity and feeling for rhythm in the Sketches by Adnan Saygun, considered the Turkish Bela Bartok. Gülsin Onay had proved here that she is a great Chopin interpreter a year ago - After all, it is for a reason that Poland bestowed on her a State Medal in 2007. Each and every one in the audience was delighted listening to her Chopin, from the poetic andante spianato to the ardent rhythms of the grande polonaise and to the magnificent final presto of the 3rd Sonata. They thanked her with an ovation. The concert ended in a sentimental mood, when she dedicated her encore to her friend Meriç Soylu, who had lost her life tragically at a young age just a few days ago.

Michael Wechtitsch, Weststeirischen Rundschau, July 2012, AUSTRIA

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no.3

Gülsin Onay / Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra / Hobart Earle

Cologne Philharmonic Hall

...we heard an enthralling musical performance of the third piano ...read more

...we heard an enthralling musical performance of the third piano concerto by Rachmaninov in which the Turkish pianist Gulsin Onay performed the solo part. Her media exposure is unfortunately far behind her enormous artistic rank and abilities, which she was brilliantly and par excellence able to prove with this touchstone. As well as in this monumental piece, her rank of creative artist was shown in two encores by Chopin, which were structured with meaningful expression and sensitive elegance.

Günter Duvenbeck, Köln-Bonner Musikkalender, 14.2.2011

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no.3

Gülsin Onay / Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra / Hobart Earle

The pianist Gulsin Onay and the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra under ...read more

The pianist Gulsin Onay and the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra under Hobart Earle replaced the scheduled 1st piano concerto of Chopin with the "concerto for elephants" (as the composer termed it): Rachmaninov's Third Concerto in D minor, op.30.

This bon mot relates to the required strength and endurance, as well as a practically infallible memory. Onay brought these attributes to the table in an astonishing manner, even refining them with her sensitive smoothness of expression and aristocratic touch.

It is no exaggeration to say that the end result was sensational. The Turkish pianist breathed a good dose of Chopinesque grandeur into the Russian behemoth, which did not do it any harm, especially as Rachmaninoff referred back to the Pole as long as he lived. Two Chopin encores sealed the event in a delightful way: the rarely-heard Variations op 12 and the Nocturne in F sharp minor, op.48 no.2

FAN, Könische Rundschau, 16.2.2011

Recital - Bayreuth International Piano Festival

What is really important... Gülsin Onay and her piano recital at Steingraeber House

Delicious brilliance

Beethoven lies under the lawn, is dead, but his music...read more

Beethoven lies under the lawn, is dead, but his music is immortal. This is not banal, when you think about the weak Beethoven interpretations. He lives especially when a pianist starts the first movement of the expressive Moonlight Sonata opus 27/2 in this shadowy fashion. Gülsin Onay is a musician who works with extreme care, and she manages to square the circle: she sheds light into the details while drawing the larger line, which keeps the enthusiastic audience spell bound from the first to the last bar. Not only the slow movement turned into a lesson in geometric tragedy. The hammer blows in the Presto agitato in fact came as a blow; the musician knows about augmentations, surprises and passages that sounded as natural as they were original.

"This was a taste of the Chopin", an expert member of the audience whispered into my ear. Indeed, a nocturne in F sharp minor opus 48/2, a nocturne in E flat major opus 9/2 and a third ballad could not have sounded more ideal, profound or torn to pieces. The E flat major nocturne is so beautiful you want to cry - sorry -, and you could have heard the proverbial pin drop in the nearly sold out hall.

Onay plays the Chopin with emphasis on every note, but not in an empty triumphant sort of way - every note is important. Phenomenal, the way she designs the beginning of the big A flat major polonaise, which rises up from eruptive energies. This is not a triumphant procession, but a last rebellion, even if in the meantime the Polish Freedom cavalry rides through the chamber music hall with grandiose hoof drumming. But the pianist can do it differently too: The three pictures from Debussy’s "Images" become precious, very elegant, very cool, very modern jewels under the pianist's hands. The applause is appropriately massive. After the polonaise one really couldn’t play anything else, so she plays, with a wink, and vehemently, the "Turkish March", before the rapid semiquaver chains of the Bach/Busoni preludee "Nun freut euch", a brilliant Abegg Variation by Schumann and a Prelude by her Turkish compatriot and teacher Ahmed Adnan Saygun are heard.

Once more she demonstrates, as she had done in the Ludovic-Variations by Chopin, the delicious brilliance of her art, which does not end in trivialities, because also here every note is played with an inner emphasis.

What is really important is what we hear - and you cannot take it for granted: Presidents come and go, but Beethoven, Debussy and Chopin remain. Whoever wanted to, could see in the musician's smile a commentary to this undisputed and comforting fact.

Frank Piontek, Nordbayerischer Kurier, 2.7.2010, GERMANY

Recital — Buenos Aires

Gülsin Onay, una gran pianista

Gülsin Onay, a great pianist,... presented her performance in...read more

Gülsin Onay, a great pianist,... presented her performance in Buenos Aires, with admirable qualities, both in technique and interpretation. Gifted with prodigious agility linked with a neat and diaphanous sound, special ductility for the elaboration of colourful tones and a impeccable precision in her approach to the piano keyboard, Gülsin Onay’s most outstanding attribute lies in her extraordinary condition for a smart beat, well-adjusted, which allows her to develop a modelling touch with sensitive effects and intensities, which are, of course, at the service of an expressive language.

Carlos Ernesto Ure, La Prensa, 10.10.2009, ARGENTINA

Ahmed Adnan Saygun - Piano Concertos nos. 1 & 2 (CD)

Gülsin Onay (piano), Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Howard Griffiths

It would be wrong to categorise the music of Ahmed...read more

It would be wrong to categorise the music of Ahmed Adnan Saygun or to try to compare it directly with that of other composers. Probably the most important classical composer of Turkey, Saygun is rightly revered in his native country as one of its cultural heroes. However, his music is still little known in Western Europe, which is unfortunate, in view of the intoxicating wealth of imagination which his works display, and his phenomenal artistic skill. Although some of his solo piano works are more often played, the two concertos very seldom feature in concert programmes outside Turkey. So it is good that the pianist Gülsin Onay has made this recording of both concertos.... Gülsin Onay's performance of [the first] concerto is fascinating, powerful, colourful and many-faceted.... The second concerto, dedicated to Onay, and first performed by her on its completion in 1985, connects, even more strongly than in other of Saygun's works, the traditional folk music of Anatolia with the sound of the symphony orchestra. It is more elegiac than the first concerto, but also grander and weightier. Gülsin Onay captivates here also, with precise and transparent playing and a richness of colour, which suits this concerto as well as it does the first. For someone not yet acquainted with the music of Ahmed Adnan Saygun, this CD is made as an entrance to take it deep into his heart. Not only, because here one hears music that will enthrall every piano-fan, but also because this is so to speak a first-hand, reference interpretation. Moreover, the detailed booklet is so informative that one is introduced to Saygun as a person as well to as his music. A CD to be heard without fail!

Carsten Dürer, Piano-News 2/2009

Ahmed Adnan Saygun - Piano Concertos nos. 1 & 2 (CD)

Gülsin Onay (piano), Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Howard Griffiths

Artistic quality: 10 - Sound quality: 10

If you can imagine the combination of Bartók's alternately ...read more

If you can imagine the combination of Bartók's alternately nocturnal and percussive keyboard writing (and scoring) married to the chromatic luxuriance of Szymanowski or Scriabin, then you have a good sense of what to expect from these two marvelous concertos. Saygun was without question a major composer, one of the last of the great ethnic nationalists. The influences of Turkish folk music have been fully absorbed into an evocative, personal idiom that has enough ties to Western tradition that aficionados of the great Romantic concertos won't lose their bearings while still savoring the many new, colorful, and atmospheric sounds that Saygun evokes.

The First Concerto dates from the 1950s, the Second (composed for the splendid soloist on this recording) from the 1980s. There's perhaps a touch more refinement to the scoring of the Second Concerto, but both are full of ear-catching ideas and offer plenty of virtuoso opportunities to the pianist. We probably won't get any more recordings of these pieces anytime soon, so it's a good thing that the performances here sound wholly fresh, idiomatic, and full of fire. I've been pushing Saygun's distinctive, masterful body of work for years, but if you haven't taken the plunge then this excellently engineered disc makes a great place to start.

David Hurwitz, classicstoday.com 3/12/2008

Athens Epidaurus Festival

Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.16

Gülsin Onay / Greek-Turkish Youth Orchestra – Vladimir Ashkenazy

At the end of the first half of the concert,...read more

At the end of the first half of the concert, the exceptional Gülsin Onay enthralled us with a Grieg Piano Concerto brimming with energy, lyricism and great delicacy in colouring.

Marie-Aude Roux, Le Monde, 02/08/2008, FRANCE

Athens Epidaurus Festival

After the Köçekçe orchestral suite by Ulvi Cemal Erkin, the ...read more

After the Köçekçe orchestral suite by Ulvi Cemal Erkin, the orchestra welcomed the exceptional Gülsin Onay in the Piano Concerto op.16 by Grieg. The internationally renowned Turkish pianist did justice to the lively and spirited character of this masterpiece, as well as with the poetic finesse of its nuances.

Eric Dahan, Libération, 1.8.2008, FRANCE

Athens Epidaurus Festival

Gifted Soloist Onay

The soloist for the Greek leg of the tour was...read more

The soloist for the Greek leg of the tour was Turkish pianist Gulsin Onay. It was a delight to be introduced to this formidable and sophisticated performer. No doubt Athenians are ready for a return visit from Onay. She played Grieg with great power, buttressed by a strong eye for subsidiary detail.

After controlling clamouring chords that open her first cadenza, Onay added Grieg's developing figurations with such detail and fluid grace it was easy to forget the other hand was still busy pounding away. Gradually the figurations took over and there the soloist elicited delightful harp-like textures from her instrument, which heralded the reentry of the soft orchestral strings.

Soloists and conductors often establish imperative cues by coordinating big stares and giant shoulder shrugs. It was a pleasure to see Ashkenazy, who is an equally renowned pianist, simply look down at Onay's hands and take the cues straight from the keyboard.

Keith Moore, Athens News, 1.8.2008, GREECE

Recital - Deutschlandsberg Piano Spring Festival

Deutschlandsberg Piano Spring: Grand Finale

As the Piano Festival draws to a close, one thinks...read more

As the Piano Festival draws to a close, one thinks of some brilliant moments, like the performances of Alexander Paley or Boris Berezovsky. Few in the audience would have expected something special from the final concert.... but as Gülsin Onay began the theme of Schumann's early ABEGG Variations op.1, the audience realised at once that this was a meeting with an absolute master. Doubly so as the theme in the first variation returned in the left hand: so well articulated, with so much musical sense and poetry, this was undoubtedly high art.

In the difficult passages of the Mendelssohn's Variations Serieuses and Chopin's Grande Polonaise, Gülsin Onay proved to be an infallible virtuoso, but also far too deep a musician to settle for mere technical show.

Following the Sonatine Op.15 by her teacher Ahmed Adnan Saygun, whose music was inspired from the ethnomusicology researches he conducted with Bela Bartok in Anatolia and who died in 1991, the concert escalated to a phenomenal finale: Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, of notorious difficulty. As Ravel would put it, "transcendental virtuosity". Mrs. Onay’s playing was simply breathtaking. She is so capable that she can brush aside the technical hurdles and concentrate on the score to convey the crystalline clarity of the notes.

Three encores followed, bringing from the captivated public standing ovations. Conclusion: Gülsin Onay can do more than just fabulously play the piano. As the famous German critic Joachim Kaiser once said for the great Arthur Rubinstein, she has the capacity to "spread happiness spontaneously".

Michael Wechtitsch, AUSTRIA

Recital - Deutschlandsberg Piano Spring Festival

A Delighting Encounter

The Piano Spring Festival over and over again gives the...read more

The Piano Spring Festival over and over again gives the audience surprises. This final concert offered two of them: a pianist and a composer. Gülsin Onay's illustrious career spans from her home country, Turkey to the concert halls of the world. She is one of those rare artists who have enough artistic essence to eschew mere display. She combines and immaculate technique, style and a sense of precision which never becomes soulless, with a strong temperament. At the heart of her programme was a sonata by the Turkish composer Ahmed Adnan Saygun, unfortunately too little known to us. This is a refined, diverse and humourful work, which requires a great degree of skill to perform. Gülsin Onay caused almost breathless excitement in her audience. Before and after the sonata, she played Schumann's ABEGG Variations, Mendelssohn's Variations Sérieuses, Chopin's Grande Polonaise Op.22 and Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit, all fascinating and true to every single sound. The third part of the evening was the collection of encores with a little-known Elgar work, a Bach-Busoni transcription and more Chopin. There was only one opinion in the audience: "Please come back!"

CH, AUSTRIA

Recital – Bonn

Pianist Gülsin Onay in Beethoven-Haus

Romantic and virtuosic – full of nuances and moods

Romantic and virtuosic: these are the criteria for guaranteeing the ...read more

Romantic and virtuosic: these are the criteria for guaranteeing the success of a piano recital. Yet, Gülsin Onay struck lucky in her recital in the Beethoven-Haus not just through her choice of works, but also by her artistic rendition of this demanding programme.

In Robert Schumann's ABEGG Variations Op.1, she discovered beyond the "Paganini of the piano" a variety of shade and atmosphere, and the difficult "Variations sérieuses" in D minor by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy became for Onay something more than virtuoso fodder.

... Onay presented the Sonatine opus 15 by her teacher Ahmed Adnan Saygun so convincingly, that one has to ask why one has not heard more from this successor of Bartok; the contrast between the dark passacaglia in the bass in the adagio, and the whirring repetitions, the agitated sound vortices of the third movement – this makes great piano drama.

The same was true for Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit. Its first movement "Ondine" benefited from Onay's velvet touch. With delicate shades she painted a beautiful watercolour - you could not represent water better on the piano than this. After "Le Gibet", the insistent and oppressive cry of the dead from the gallows, the pianist let off the technical fireworks with "Scarbo", the furious imp. Ravel's work was inspired by the poetry of Aloysius Bertrand, who described Scarbo as "that grotesque dwarf, who around midnight tumbles down from the ceiling, twirling around like a giant spindle, loooming like a Gothic bell tower, and finally collapsing and extinguishing like a candle stump". Gülsin Onay showed that she had read these words.

Gunild Lohmann, General Anzeiger Bonn, 2.6.2008, GERMANY

Tender Virtuosity

Pianist Gülsin Onay's playing creates an orchestral effect

Guests of Honour: Turkish Consul General and Federal State Parliament President

HAMM - At the concert of the exceptional pianist Gülsin...read more

HAMM - At the concert of the exceptional pianist Gülsin Onay at the Kurhaus on Monday, leading figures of political life also came together as to demonstrate German-Turkish friendship. Along with an estimated 500 listeners - coomprising in nearly equal numbers compatriots of the artists and classical music lovers of Hamm - the Turkish Consul-General welcomed the Federal State Parliament President Regina van Dinther among the audience.

Almost in a whisper, Gülsin Onay thanked the welcoming applause and presented her evening programme. However as soon as she sat at the piano, all her apparent shyness disappeared and after a few seconds of concentration she began with Schumann's ABEGG Variations. Technically perfect and with almost tenderly playful virtuosity, she presented this romantic fantasy named after the opening chord sequence.

Her extensive use of pedal was never detrimental to the clarity of her playing, as particularly revealed with the following Variations Sérieuses of Mendelssohn. From the dense music, she devised the counterpoint out of the bass and melody lines, playing with restrained energy and dynamics; nevertheless obtaining an orchestral effect. Onay joined tender fragility with strong touch in the Chopin's Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise, which closed the first half of the concert.

The artist hit a totally different tone with the Sonatine of her former teacher Ahmed Adnan Saygun and seemed in an unknown country of sounds, suggesting that there is yet other musical virgin soil to discover here. Ravel's Ondine attractively contrasted this. In addition she presented a piece of the English composer Edward Elgar, a Bach-Busoni Chorale Prelude and a Chopin Ballade. The public had been long convinced; they crowned her with a large applause which gradually increased up to an applause trill. After the closing speech of the Consul General, Gülsin Onay played as an encore the well-known A la Turca Rondo of Mozart, thoroughly applauded by the rapturous audience.

Von Werner Lauterbach, Westfälische Anzeiger, 22.1.2008, GERMANY

Virtuoso playing

Matinee: Gülsin Onay fascinates Leichlingen audience

The appeal of the Matinee concerts at the community centre...read more

The appeal of the Matinee concerts at the community centre comes from the pleasant atmosphere and the high level of performances. The special climax in the series was the appearance of Gülsin Onay on Sunday.

The Istanbul-born, internationally known pianist delighted all with her performance, which united extreme technical brilliance with a sensitive interpretation. This became evident already at the very beginning in the Abegg Variations of the young Robert Schumann, in which she conjured glistening strings of pearls from the Steinway piano. Also in Mendelssohn's Variations Sérieuses she attained the romantic tone most beautifully.

She brought the Chopin's Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise brillante, Op.22 to an end with a very complex and finely balanced crescendo. Piano works from Turkey are hardly well-known to us; and so the Sonatina of the Turkish composer Ahmed Adnan Saygun (1907-1991), with whom Gülsin Onay had studied, aroused great interest. It was a short work of high technical requirement, reminiscent of Rachmaninov. Finally, Maurice Ravel has given pianists a particularly tough nut to crack with his Gaspard de la Nuit. Under the hands of Gülsin Onay music sprang from it: the spring where Ondine lives gushed briskly, the lurid gallows raised, the elf Scarbo jumped around fantastically. The artist acknowledged the extremely cordial applause with a rare piece: Izmir by Edward Elgar.

KG, Solinger Tageblatt, 22.01.2008, GERMANY

Schumann Piano Concerto

Gülsin Onay / Bilkent Symphony Orchestra - Emil Tabakov

With the quality accompaniment of BSO under the baton of...read more

With the quality accompaniment of BSO under the baton of Tabakov, Gülsin Onay embroidered finely all the details of the Schumann concerto. She, emphasizing the poetic approach of the composer in a very effective way, reflected successfully the romanticism of the work to the audience. The encore was the Chopin’s Grand Polonaise. Gülsin Onay was bathed in applauses.

Şefik Kahramankaptan, Andante Magazine, May-June 2007, TURKEY

Dvořák Piano Concerto

Gülsin Onay / Czech National Symphony Orchestra - Georg Fritsch

Opening full of expectations to the concert season

… The focus of the first half of the concert...read more

… The focus of the first half of the concert was the rarely performed “Piano Concerto in G minor”, Op.33 by Dvorak. The greatest challenge of this work is that it integrates the piano symphonically into the orchestra to the full. Dvorak had written this work for a piano virtuoso. This evening’s soloist Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay has a phenomenal technique, necessary for successfully performing the work. She possesses a powerful touch that can come across over the full orchestra; whereas she interprets the soft parts with a delicate touch, sensitively. Through this, the second slow movement, which resembles chamber music at times, reached a magnificent climax.

Manfred Szorbries, Wilhelmshavener Zeitung, 29.9.2006, GERMANY

Season opening with the Prague Symphony

Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay enthuses the audience

… The audience was eagerly anticipating the Turkish pianist Gülsin...read more

… The audience was eagerly anticipating the Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay to come on stage for Antonin Dvorak’s (1841-1904) Piano Concerto in G minor, Op.33. And she came… She greeted the audience with a sympathetic smile, adjusted the piano stool and waited for her entrance after the orchestra. She performed the first movement with an expressive body language, fluent agility, powerful touch and a melodic cadence. Yet in the second movement, she conveyed the contrasting tender feeling. The piano fully dominates the third movement Allegro con fuoco of the work, which was premiered in Prague in 1878. The pianist and the orchestra create a perfect effect in the two Bohemian melodies. In this concerto which is not very generous on the virtuoso’s behalf, the pianist managed to reveal the appealing sides.

Jever Wochenblatt ER, 29.09.2006, GERMANY

Pianist Gülsin Onay enchants the audience at the Theatre

The concert season opened at the Theatre - and with...read more

The concert season opened at the Theatre - and with a big exclamation! The Czech National Symphony Orchestra and the pianist Gülsin Onay enchanted the audience at the sold-out concert on Wednesday evening.

… Following the ouverture, the glorious moment for the soloist arrived. Why is the Dvorak’s Piano Concerto, Op.33 so rarely performed? Upon hearing Gülsin Onay’s vibrant performance, everybody asked the same question. Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay was very satisfactory in her exquisite and brisk interpretation, accompanied by the orchestra masterfully conducted by Georg Fritsch. The audience did not let the internationally acknowledged piano star to leave right away. Gülsin Onay thanked the never-ending ovation by playing Schumann’s ABEGG Variations as an encore.

Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, 29.9.2006, GERMANY

The Czech Symphony Orchestra visits from Prague - Soloist Gülsin Onay shines at the piano

… Pianist Gülsin Onay played the rarely performed Piano Concerto,...read more

… Pianist Gülsin Onay played the rarely performed Piano Concerto, Op.33 by Dvorak. Georg Fritsch made a mellow introduction to the work, emphasizing the lyrical lines and thus allowing the soloist to communicate comfortably with the orchestra. In her dialogue with the orchestra, the soloist glimmered with her tonal palette and her rich embellishments in the melodies.

All the movements of Dvorak’s Piano Concerto contain elements from Slav folk music. In the second movement, longing themes from songs can be heard above soft tones. Gülsin Onay played the clear melodies here cantabile as befits the character of the music. Then in the third movement come passages with rhythmic contrasts. The gentle, harmonic melodies are replaced with chromatic turns and fast tempi. The audience, enchanted by the brilliant performance of Gülsin Onay, applauded enthusiastically.

Angelika Kannenberg, Wolfsburger Nachrichten- Kültür, 29.9.2006, GERMANY

Recital - Bursa Saygun Symposium

The symposium on Adnan Saygun started on the morning of...read more

The symposium on Adnan Saygun started on the morning of March the 9th with the opening speeches, followed by Gülsin Onay’s recital. Gülsin Onay’s performance, featuring Saygun’s Sonatina Op.15 and two preludes from 12 Preludes on Aksak Rhythms, was a feast built on unquestionable mastery, fineness that has penetrated into Saygun’s soul and fluent decisiveness.

Ali Ergür, Andante Magazine, May-June 2007, TURKEY

Our great pianist Gülsin Onay, in her effort to perform...read more

Our great pianist Gülsin Onay, in her effort to perform Saygun’s works in every country she goes, leads the interpreters who have gained Saygun an international reputation… Our new generation of performers should follow Gülsin Onay’s model not only in her extraordinary talent and virtuosity that enables her to perform both Saygun and the great composers of the West with a fine taste, reflecting the nuances of tone on the keyboard, but also in her healthful thinking, cultural consciousness and conscientious responsibility.

Dinçer Yıldız, Orkestra Magazine, May 2007, TURKEY

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3

Gülsin Onay / Bilkent Symphony Orchestra - Vladimir Ashkenazy

Most recently, the legendary pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy ...read more

Most recently, the legendary pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy visited Bilkent. He conducted a Turkish orchestra for the first time; and after Iceland for the second time in Ankara, he shared the same stage with Gülsin Onay, whom he recently has added to the list of pianists he wants to work with.

The Ashkenazy - Gülsin Onay musical cooperation started with the maestro listening and acclaiming our pianist’s recordings. Gülsin Onay performed the Schumann Piano Concerto in April with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Ashkenazy. That was followed by the Rachmaninov performance at Bilkent. An expert in Russian music, Ashkenazy, who himself has played the composer’s all piano concertos plenty of times, this time in the accompaniment presented a balanced and attentive conducting, displaying symphonic properties of the work as well as enabling the virtuosity of the piano to be perceived.

Having played Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto many times with different orchestras, Gülsin Onay too, as a pianist who has long overcome successfully the technical difficulties of the work, displayed all her finger acrobatics an appropriately conveyed the romanticism and the contrasting violent feelings embraced in the concerto to the audience. The reaction of the audience was fabulous. Gülsin Onay had to play two encores in return; first she played the Saygun Preludes and then a Chopin… As a matter of fact though I have listened to her four times in the past months, I had not seen Gülsin Onay this excited and happy before. When I told her my ascertainment she said, “You are right… It was a tremendous pleasure to perform with a great musician. It was a rapturous event for me.

Şefik Kahramankaptan, Cumhuriyet, 25.5.2007, TURKEY

Recital - Akbank Art Centre

What a nice rendezvous it was with Gülsin Onay at AK Sanat.

Gülsin is an artistic ambassador of the republic. If we...read more

Gülsin is an artistic ambassador of the republic. If we are to get into EU, the flag is born by these modern people, showing what a Turk is to everyone. Gülsin manages to come to Turkey very rarely. She has an enormous programme throughout the world.

Although I was ill and could hardly stand on my feet I still went running. The magical fingers that wandered on the keys like the caress of the lover made me forget everything else.

Hıncal Uluç, Sabah, 21.4.2007, TURKEY

Recital - Schloss Vornholz, Ostenfelde

Powerful piano romantic-Turkish accents

In the first SOR master concert 2006 in Schloss Vornholz...read more

In the first SOR master concert 2006 in Schloss Vornholz in Ostenfelde the Istanbul-born Turkish pianist Gulsin Onay, who has been bestowed with numerous international music prizes, provided a fulminating new beginning. In a programme of classical-romantic piano music, enriched by very effective Turkish accents, the passionate artist stormed around almost continuously between forte and fortissimo in a pianistic furore.

This was certainly less suitable for listeners who want to be emotionally moved, rather more for music lovers who can be enthusiastic about technically perfected piano playing. In Schumann’s “Abegg-Variations” it was clear from the very beginning, from the playful virtuosity of the loud and fast chords and the way they were broken, where this journey would lead us. Gulsin Onay played this immensely powerfully, as she did later Chopin’s “Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise brillante” in Eflat major opus 22, quickly developed the main theme and arrived via tense chords at the dance-like part of the work.

The charismatic artist did not fail to pay tribute to her over her practically unknown piano teacher Ahmed Adnan Saygun and played his Sonatine opus 15, a virtuoso piece, which remains hard on the edge of tonality and finishes with an impressive climax. A small exotic extra was the “Smyrna-Picture” by Elgar, whie Ravel opened the second part of the programme with the tone poem “Gaspard de la Nuit”.

In Chopin’s stormy ballad in A flat major no 3 opus 47, the Turkish pianist proved in exemplary style, how a simple and calm theme can develop with powerfully driven dynamic. Perfected mastery finally in Beethoven’s Sonata in E flat major opus 81a, programme music in the best sense of the word. From the farewell of the beginning the chatty opus develops via the elegies of the expressive andante to the joyful chord breaks in the re-union finale in the most vivid vivacissimamente.

The virtuoso rushed hurriedly with brilliant lines over the keys, proving her developed sense for dramatic effect and placed her technical perfection, bordering on the artistic, fully into the service of the self imposed high standard. The audience was clearly impressed and thanked her with standing ovations. They loved the encores of a small variation by Chopin as well as the graceful, much varied “March of the Sultan Abdul Mecit” by Liszt: a German/Turkish finale of a moving piano recital.

Dr. Ulrich Gehre, Ennigerloh, 31.1.2006, GERMANY

Liszt Piano Concerto No.1

Gülsin Onay / Presidential Symphony Orchestra - Antonio Pirolli

Virtuoso Gülsin Onay plays Liszt with maestro Antonio Pirolli Ankara, December 2005

On the nights of Dec. 8-9, virtuoso Gülsin Onay was...read more

On the nights of Dec. 8-9, virtuoso Gülsin Onay was back at the keyboard to play Franz Liszt's (1811-1886) “Piano Concerto No.1” with the Presidential Symphony Orchestra (CSO), under masterful maestro and honorary Turk Antonio Pirolli. Liszt must have composed this thunderbolt of a concerto for the exquisite virtuosity of Onay. She played it with all the innate fire and spontaneous bravado to do total justice to the work, from beginning until the end. It is a comparatively short but melodious concerto, a whirlwind of an intricate orchestration that captures the hearts of the audience. Onay is a keyboard artist par excellence as she plays the music completely with body and soul, in perfect immersion, trance and dedication. She was a child prodigy who gave her first concert at the age of six. She graduated from the Paris Conservatory at the tender age of 16 with a first prize. Her lifelong devotion to music is only surpassed by her genial talent, as a seasoned interpreter of, especially, the romantics. It was a true delight to listen to her music of great color, contrasting sonority with high professionalism and flawless technique. She played three full-scale encores with humility and spontaneity as a response to the warm ovation from the music-loving public who braved the heavy rain in Ankara on the night of 8 December.

Yüksel Söylemez, Turkish Daily News, 25.12.2005, TURKEY

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3

Gülsin Onay / Bilkent Symphony Orchestra - Emil Tabakov

Gülsin Onay - A Rachmaninoff interpreter with a sensitive decisiveness, ...read more

Gülsin Onay - A Rachmaninoff interpreter with a sensitive decisiveness, and intelligent brilliance and, when necessary, also with chord power. Above it all, however, there governs, or better, hovers, a female-male humanity, which conjures up from the very semplice beginning of the D minor Piano Concerto (op.30) an atmosphere of a loving dedication to detail, while simultaneously showing an energetic feeling for everything that is to come. For me Gülsin Onay met this monstrous as well as intimate concerto as an artist who is passionate and who has the ability to entrust everything that is tender as if smilingly to her intelligent fingers, in order to climb the dangerous mountains of this capital mountain range in the next moment. I have seldom experienced the “cinematic” Finale of the D minor concerto this passionately, this rhythmically explosive and at the same time, this enlighteningly cantabile played, even lived through. This was the last musical consequence of a precisely told “story” of light and dark, soft and hard, and in the balance of direct and indirect lighting, which can only be told by a supreme pianist full of fantasy.

Peter Cossé, 19.10.2005, AUSTRIA

Saygun Piano Concerto No.1 – Ravel Piano Concerto in G

Gülsin Onay / Orchestre Regionale de Cannes – Yatzuya Shimono

A thunderous Turkish concerto at Noga Croisette

Ravelian magic

What do we know about Turkish music and musicians? After...read more

What do we know about Turkish music and musicians? After the concert of the Orchestre Regionale de Cannes at Noga Croisette – cosmopolitan and passionate from beginning to end - there is no longer any reason to ask this question. There we discovered at the same time a great composer, Adnan Saygun, and an immense pianist, Gülsin Onay. To complete the feast, it remained to add a conductor, the smiling and determined Yatzuya Shimono...

The thunderbolt was immediate between Gülsin Onay, right from the first bars of the - thunderous concerto by A. Adnan Saygun, the most important Turkish composer of modern times. After Saygun, the famous Concerto in G for piano and orchestra by Ravel. Gülsin Onay made from it an extraordinary garden, brilliant from pearls of dew on the melodic flowers, scintillating with unutterable transparency in the Adagio, where the fairy-like piano was supported by the poetry of the oboe (Jean-Marie Vermeeren), to finish in a headlong race of semiquavers, crystalline like a refreshing cascade.

Nice-Matin, 25.3.2005, FRANCE

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1

Gülsin Onay / Thüringen Symphony Orchestra - Alun Francis

Powerful display from the pianist

Symphony Concert: “Bravo” ovation for Onay

Having watched many powerful soloists at the keyboard, furthermore ...read more

Having watched many powerful soloists at the keyboard, furthermore having witnessed star pianists who already had become immortal through their CD recordings, Gotha people were curious to find out how a female soloist would prove herself in this field which in appearance is under “male reign”. Yet Gülsin Onay (Turkey), appearing rather comfortable both technically and creatively, reconfirmed her worldwide reputation as a many-sided virtuoso.

The flexibility in her touch saves her from getting caught in vigorous martellatos and this softness, as well as being useful in the cutting suddenly of the minutest parts of the work also enables to form a certain melodic harmony. She displayed her original interpretation especially in the solo cadenza of the first movement and in the encore she played at the end of the concert. The rareness of visible eye contact between the soloist and the Maestro who was deeply involved in conducting the orchestra increased the effect of her dominant performance even more, and the concert ended with huge applause and “Bravo” ovation.

Helmut Münster, TLZ Gotha, 17.1.2004, GERMANY

Gülsin Onay / Thüringen Symphony Orchestra - Alun Francis

A tribute to Tchaikovsky

SUHL, Germany - On Wednesday night at the Thüringen Philharmonic...read more

SUHL, Germany - On Wednesday night at the Thüringen Philharmonic Hall in CCS, it was almost a record with 800 audience at the Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay’s concert! The pianist with her strong captive performance was truly enchanting. Alun Francis conducted cautiously to maintain the harmony between the orchestra and the powerful performance of the soloist that revealed itself from the first chords. Soon, an excellent unity was attained in which the flute, cello and oboe solos of the orchestra also found a free room. Thus, the sympathetic Gülsin Onay conquered the hearts of all the audience - the ovation lasted a long time.

Lilian Klement, Freies Wort, 16.1.2004, GERMANY

Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor

Gülsin Onay / Sinfonia Varsovia - Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach

Powerful, lyrical and full of magic

Brilliant concert in the “master series” an Bad Münder

Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor... is to be found...read more

Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor... is to be found in the repertoire of every leading pianist. So with Gülsin Onay, the Istanbul-born pianist, right from the powerful beginning, brought to sparkle Schumann's poetry with her lyrical and cantabile playing. Also in the Intermezzo, the relation of the romanticism with the aesthetic ideal was recognised through Onay's delicate and careful approach. Full of energy, and punctually harmonized with the orchestra, rose the tempo in the Allegro Vivace of the Rondo. Although the distinguished orchestra was at times a bit too much in the foreground, Schumann's powerful romanticism was displayed in the hands of the brilliant soloist.

Dorothee Balzereit, Dewezet, 27.11.2003, GERMANY

Gülsin Onay / Sinfonia Varsovia - Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach

A lion of the keyboard without the need to roar

Convincing Master-Concert by Gülsin Onay and Sinfonia Varsovia for the 10th Anniversary of the Martin-Schmidt Hall

Bad Münder, 25 November 2003

... Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor, performed by Gülsin...read more

... Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor, performed by Gülsin Onay. The Istanbul-born artist showed in her interpretation that she had something to communicate and was able to do so. Schumann's composition marked at his time the end of the classical aesthetic. Onay had the feeling for the romantic colours of the work, playing at the same time with power and reflection. Even though the Sinfonia Varsovia under Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach played at a rather high dynamic, Onay always found room for quiet and lyrical moments - a lion without the need to roar. Impressive also was the tight sound of the strings, and the sometimes humorous dialogue between orchestra and soloist in the spirited Rondo finale. With two encores Onay showed again her artistic range.

HAZ, Deister-Anzeiger, 27.11.2003, GERMANY

Saygun Piano Concerto No.1

Gülsin Onay / Hildesheimer Staatsorchester - Werner Seitzer

As a soloist the ideal interpreter had been found: the...read more

As a soloist the ideal interpreter had been found: the Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay, to whom the composer dedicated his 2nd Piano Concerto. Thus Gülsin Onay's performance was an inteterpretation of Saygun at first hand - and what hands!

The brilliant pianist was applauded with great enthusiasm; of course the applause also covered the work and the perfect accompaniment of the orchestra conducted by Werner Seitzer. One wants to listen more to the works of Ahmed Adnan Saygun. As an appetiser, Gülsin Onay played a short fast Prelude by the composer as an encore.

Joachim Stepp, Alfelder Zeitung, 26.11.2003, GERMANY

Gülsin Onay / Hildesheimer Staatsorchester - Werner Seitzer

Brilliant Concert in the City Theatre

... equally brilliant was the evening's second work: the 1st...read more

... equally brilliant was the evening's second work: the 1st Piano Concerto op.34 by the contemporary Turkish composer Ahmet Adnan Saygun (1907--1991), performed by his compatriot Gülsin Onay in a breathtaking interpretation. But anyone who expected an oriental piece “a la Turca” would have been disappointed. The work Gülsin Onay presented to us was a powerful, energetic composition in the early modern style, demanding of both soloist and orchestra. From the first page she enthused the public with her virtuosity and verve, at the same time giving a faithful, intelligent and decisive interpretation. There was finely-tuned interaction between soloist and orchestra in the wild thunder of the Deciso, and the purposeful development of the pale shades of the Andante con moto, before the rush of the concluding Allegro.

Wolfgang-Armin Rittmeier, Allgemeine Zeitung, 25.11.2003, GERMANY

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3

Gülsin Onay / Thüringer Philharmonie - Eckehard Stier

Breathtaking finger acrobatics

Phenomenal Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay plays Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto at the third Symphony Concert in Aue Kulturhaus

It was perhaps the most impressive event of the season......read more

It was perhaps the most impressive event of the season... The State Artist, Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay, gave an interpretation of the third Rachmaninov concerto which can only be described as phenomenal. The enthusiastic and precise playing of the orchestra was a fitting accompaniment to the powerful, breathtaking virtuosity of the soloist. The conductor Eckehard Stier sculpted the turbulent moods of the music with unusually sharp lines. The world-class pianist Gülsin Onay received a thundering ovation from the enthusiastic audience, and gave two wonderful encores.

Rolf Pausch, Freie Presse Aue, 11.11.2003, GERMANY

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3

Gülsin Onay / Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra - Nikolay Dyadyura

Concert in Turkish style

Gülsin Onay and Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra play Rachmaninov 3rd Piano Concerto

On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Republic...read more

On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, State Artist of Turkey Gülsin Onay performed at the National Philharmonic ... Conducted by Nikolay Dyadyura, the Philharmonic Orchestra played the Romantic Symphony by Mikhail Sepanenko, the symphonic poem Sultan Mehmet II the Conqueror by Cemal Reşid Rey, and finally the 3rd Piano Concerto by Sergei Rachmaninov, demonstrating different types of performance schools.

Taking into account recent events from Kiev's musical life, one might have said that Ms. Onay was not very fortunate, seeing that Rachmaninov's 3rd concerto had been among the most frequently played works in the final of the Vladimir Horowitz Young Pianist's Competition, and that it had been performed by Mikhail Pletnyov on 1 October at the National Opera of Ukraine. But even within this context, the Turkish pianist's performance was a success. Playing the leading part, she displayed an unusually exquisite soft articulation. Her exquisite style of playing was especially demonstrated in the solo parts ... the melodies under the pianist's fingers were so plastic that they recalled the movements of oriental dancers... In general, the concert caused a most vivid reaction from its listeners. Some music gourmets recognised that they had been listening to the music not with their minds, but with their hearts for the first time.

Yelena Dyahkova, Zerkalo Nedeli, 1.11.2003, UKRAINE

Falla Nights in the Gardens of Spain - Ravel Piano Concerto in G

Gülsin Onay / North German Philharmonic Orchestra - Wolf-Dieter Hauschild

The brilliant success of the Turkish pianist

Philharmonic Concert at the Public Theatre

... Manuel de Falla's “Nights in the Gardens of Spain...read more

... Manuel de Falla's “Nights in the Gardens of Spain” for piano and orchestra ... Here the Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay was able, with her highly developed capability, to illuminate its changing shades with a fine and intricate range of attack.

The “proper” concerto came after the interval: Ravel's Concerto in G, a brilliant, cheerful and sparkling work full of the sounds of early jazz. How the soloist shaped here the musical character with delicate feeling!

M. Baumgartl, OZ, 25.2.2003, GERMANY

Recital - Berlin Philharmonic Chamber Music Hall

A piano recital full of rich pictures and rare Turkish values

Gülsin Onay proved her intuition for the poetical sound and...read more

Gülsin Onay proved her intuition for the poetical sound and her harmonious virtuosity on the piano - a convincing devotion.

Martina Helmig, Berliner Morgenpost, 1.2.2003, GERMANY

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2

Gülsin Onay / Rheinischen Philharmonic Orchestra - Arild Remmereit

Extraordinary talent

An extraordinary talent was manifest in the Turkish pianist Gülsin ...read more

An extraordinary talent was manifest in the Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay's performance of Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto. She mastered the taxing solo part with great depth of musicality, and a quite unbelievable virtuosity and dexterity. Following the slow opening chords and the first movement that turns into a modulation undertaken by the orchestra and the lyrical adagio, the allegro of the last movement until the passionate end requires a superior performance from the soloist. The Bösendorfer piano was trembling from its base! The soloist receiving the enthusiastic ovation with a smile also played an encore: Frederic Chopin’s Andante spianato.

Peter Steinbach, Allgaeuer Zeitung, 30.1.2003, GERMANY

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2

Gülsin Onay / Berlin Symphony Orchestra - Lior Shambadal

Turkish Variations: Pianist Gülsin Onay shines with Berlin Symphony Orchestra in sold-out City Theatre - Kempten

The high point of evening was the 2nd Piano Concerto...read more

The high point of evening was the 2nd Piano Concerto by Rachmaninov. The impassioned waves of sound captivated the audience, enveloping the piano part, itself hard to surpass in virtuosity, in a perfect symbiosis. The Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay, who holds the title of State Artist in her native country, delivered its often whirlwind arpeggios and chord sequences with a pearly touch and the ease of a wandering dream. The Adagio Sostenuto was played with fervour and great intensity, and Onay and her piano melted into one as if in a love-relationship. After two encores (the finale of Schumann's Abegg Variations, and a prelude by the Turkish composer Ahmet Adnan Saygun) the enchanted audience showed their appreciation.

David Wiesner, AZ, 25.1.2003, GERMANY

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2

Gülsin Onay / Berlin Symphony Orchestra - Lior Shambadal

The star of the evening, impressive by her carefree, forceful...read more

The star of the evening, impressive by her carefree, forceful manner, her spirit and the pleasure in her virtuosity, was the pianist Gülsin Onay. She dedicated herself to Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto with pomp and splendour. The elegiac tone only rarely bordered on sentimentality, rather she paid attention to the structure of the work, as it befits the big concertos. The composer clothes the memories of Tchaikovsky's 1st Symphony and Dvorak's New World, cleverly weaving the sound into his own style. Gülsin Onay showed us this knowledgeably and forcefully.

Thomas M Wellens, AZ, 22.1.2003, GERMANY

Recital - Wigmore Hall

Gülsin Onay at Wigmore Hall, London

When did you last hear the work of Mühiddin Dürruoğlu-Demiriz...read more

When did you last hear the work of Mühiddin Dürruoğlu-Demiriz or Liszt’s transcription of a march for the Sultan’s coronation in 1839 written by Donizetti’s elder brother Giuseppe? On the London concert platform even Ahmet Adnan Saygun, a major Turkish figure, has the exotic appeal of a blue moon.

A programme, then, of Turkish delights, and they were in the best hands.

As soon as she hit Le Tourneur (the title refers to a whirling dervish), a piano piece written in 1994 by the Turkish-Belgian Dürruoğlu-Demiriz, rumbles of notes and their reverberations cascaded over the keyboard; stabbing chords built to a climax, then faded into exhaustion. Here was considerable finger power and expressive control.

... With Saygun, however, Onay was championing someone genuinely interesting. In the 1930s Saygun and Bartók travelled in the Balkans, the Near East and North Africa. The older master might have made a more gnarled and hammering treatment of the finale’s Black Sea dance. But Saygun is no Bartók-and-water; he has his own inquisitive personality, and Onay proved a powerful advocate.

Geoff Brown, The Times of London, 14.12.2002, ENGLAND

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3

Gülsin Onay / Halle Philharmonic Orchestra - Wolf-Dieter Hauschild

...in her energetic performance of the first movement cadenza, as...read more

...in her energetic performance of the first movement cadenza, as in the incandescent Finale, Onay displayed her powerful and resilient technique to its full, and proved her excellence with spectacular pianism.

Westfalen-Blatt, 7.10.2002, GERMANY

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3

Gülsin Onay / Halle Philharmonic Orchestra - Henrick Vestmann

Brilliant virtuoso start to the concert season

Rachmaninov composed his Third Concerto for his trip to the...read more

Rachmaninov composed his Third Concerto for his trip to the USA in 1909 and played its first performance himself. According to contemporary reports, it was a great success.

In Stendal, Gulsin Onay likewise received heartfelt applause for her solo achievement. This pianist possesses a highly developed technical mastery, through which you forgot the intricate virtuoso demands in the piece's interpretation. She shaped the lyrical passages in the concerto with great expression, and together with the orchestra and conductor created a musical feast for the ears.

Stendaler Zeitung, 21.9.2002, GERMANY

Recital - North German Philharmonic Hall, Rostock

...an exceptional pianist, endowed with virtuosic brilliance and boundless energy, and an interpretive power both intelligent and emotionally sensitive.

She began with a Sonatine by her compatriot and first...read more

She began with a Sonatine by her compatriot and first teacher, A. Adnan Saygun. Then came Schumann's ABEGG Variations, full of feeling for its secret fantasy, and finally Chopin's Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise. It was a real surprise how, as if eavesdropping, she exposed the secret tenderness and fragility of this virtuoso display work; she did not just stage the bustling theatrics of a ball, but also gave it a greatness alongside its grandeur.

Norddeutsche Neueste Nachtrichten 20.2.2002, GERMANY

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1

Gülsin Onay / Schleswig-Holstein Symphony Orchestra - Per Borin

Gülsin Onay and Per Borin brought a new freshness to...read more

Gülsin Onay and Per Borin brought a new freshness to what can seem the tiredest of warhorses in other hands -the First Piano Concerto of Tchaikovsky. Conductor and soloist went beyond mere virtuosity to make of the piece a spellbinding dialogue between orchestra and piano. Gülsin Onay stepped in at very short notice to replace the indisposed Peter Jablonski. As at the Festival she rendered the technical difficulties of the piano part effortlessly. She brought the phrases to life with temperament and personality delighting in the smallest detail while never losing sight of the forward motion of the music with the orchestra as an ideal partner....a supremely musical performance.

CH, Flensburg Avis 19.1.2001, GERMANY

Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1

Gülsin Onay / Schleswig-Holstein Symphony Orchestra - Per Borin

The Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay replaced Peter Jablonski as soloist...read more

The Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay replaced Peter Jablonski as soloist in the beloved piece with only 24 hours notice and enchanted us all with a seemingly inexhaustible variety of touch, accompanied by an orchestra responsive to each and every nuance of it. In the opening movement the soloist found a perfect balance between triumphant pathos and heartfelt lyricism heightened by a brilliant cadenza. And, after as exquisitely inward andantino, the finale rang out in all its fiery and colourful splendour bringing the piece to an impressive climax.

Flensburger Tageblatt 18.1.2001, GERMANY

Mozart Piano Concerto in E flat, KV271 “Jeunehomme

Gülsin Onay / Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra - Ingo Metzmacher

The Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay, now based in England, sparkled...read more

The Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay, now based in England, sparkled in one of the most genial works from Mozart's early years, the Piano Concerto in E flat major KV271 (Jeunehomme). With her flexible, wonderfully light touch she let the music blossom; the dark, harmonically rich middle movement in the minor key was especially expressive.

Harburger Anzeigen und Nachtrichten 11.1999, GERMANY

Mozart Piano Concerto in E flat, KV271 “Jeunehomme

Gülsin Onay / Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra - Ingo Metzmacher

The main attraction of the evening was a pair of...read more

The main attraction of the evening was a pair of works by Mozart. The Turkish-German pianist Gülsin Onay proved to be a delightful choice in the Piano Concerto in E flat major, KV 271. The soloist and the orchestra performed the dark andantino expressively, as well as the slow middle part in the fresh, but never naively played, finale.

Harburger Rundschau im Hamburger Abendblatt 11.1999, GERMANY

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3

Gülsin Onay / Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra - Gerhard Markson

Longing Search for the Lost Feeling

Gülsin Onay makes Rachmaninov a Pièce de Résistance

...once called an “Elephant Concerto”, because its technical ...read more

...once called an “Elephant Concerto”, because its technical difficulties are extreme, Rachmaninov's third piano concerto was in the very best hands with the great pianist Gülsin Onay. Sensitive and brilliant in equal parts, she made this difficult lump into a pièce de resistance at the fifth symphony concert in Hagen.

....Gülsin Onay has the virtuoso “claw” which is required for this keyboard beast, and above all she has a beautiful perception for the sad, harsh and melancholic moments which define this opus 30. She virtually made the piano sing, and the D minor concerto suddenly became a woeful, longing search for the lost feeling.

Monika Witler, Westfalenpost, 6.5.1999, GERMANY

Chopin Piano Concerto No.1

Gülsin Onay / Göttingen Symphony Orchestra - Othmar Maga

Göttingen Symphony Orchestra: brilliant performance by Gülsin Onay

As bubbly as Champagne

We had just before witnessed a brilliant interpretation of Chopin's ...read more

We had just before witnessed a brilliant interpretation of Chopin's first piano concerto by the Turkish virtuoso Gülsin Onay in a way that is rare indeed. The pianist convinces not only through her sensational technical mastery, but also through a rare combination of musical intelligence and perceptivity. Grandezza, superior phrasing, musical energy and subtlety were supremely balanced.

Göttinger Tagblatt 27.3.1999, GERMANY

Recital – Bielefeld

Magical Piano Playing

In the Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay, former pupil of Nadja...read more

In the Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay, former pupil of Nadja Boulanger and Monique Haas, winner of a few international competitions, we got to know a sensitive musician during the town's chamber music series. Not only did her dazzling appearance and charm impress immediately, but also her completely mastered piano playing, which can draw magical sounds from the piano as well as volcanic eruptions bordering on excess, and all this with unheard of taste and under precise acoustic control.

A highlight in Schubert's sonata work are his three last posthumously published sonatas from September 1828. The C minor sonata D958 points far ahead into the 19th century with its thematic setting and its harmonic-chromatic construction. Gülsin Onay plays the first movement weightily, points consciously to Beethoven's C minor variations and the "Pathetique", pulls open the drama, and all this with a colourful stroke. She leads the adagio movement into hymn-like peaceful regions, forms it into a complete song, with a slight contrasting of the themes but without elongations. Especially in the minuet and trio the pianist lets the Viennese character shine through, in order to set ablaze, in the finale, this tarantella movement with its changing harmonic moods, surrounded by darkness and very complicated, to set ablaze a breathtaking, startling sound panorama.

In the first movement of the C sharp minor Sonata op.27, no.2 by Beethoven, Gülsin Onay grasps its secret melancholy, and the middle movement she plays with almost naïve grace as an introduction to the finale, where she chisels the triad cascades, and throws down apocalyptic, vehemently passionate outbreaks without sentiment, as if freeing sound blocks. This is presented with the greatest of calculation and in absolute technical reliability and convinces in every bar.

Ahmed Adnan Saygun (1907-1991)... You can not imagine a better interpreter than Gülsin Onay: she introduces the stylistic idiosyncrasies of the work and manages thrillingly the "devilish" piano movement with its concentrated chords, the running cascades and the rhythmic tricks. She does not avoid any effort, she plays seemingly effortlessly, also her encore of one of Saygun's preludes.

Chopin's Variations Brillantes... Gülsin Onay took this work on with all the elegance of her pearly fingers.

After the mood enhancing, sensitive F-sharp minor Nocturne op.48, no.2, where the great art of the pianist's touch was again apparent, she triumphed at the end of her fascinating recital with the A-flat major Polonaise op 53 by Chopin. Entirely disciplined in the temperamental outbreaks she pulled out of the piano any sounds you can imagine. She conjured up structure and function in a unique way with a volume of the instrument's possibilities. That was exemplary!

The listeners were enthusiastic. Gülsin Onay thanked them with Mozart's Turkish March.

Wolfgang Drees, 24.3.1998, GERMANY

Recital - Newport Festival 1997

...Ms Onay's playing of Beethoven's last Sonata, Opus 111, rivalled that of Schnabel.

Providence Journal-Bulletin, Rhode Island, USA


Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1

Gülsin Onay / Singapore Symphony Orchestra

A potent reading of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1... while...read more

A potent reading of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1... while her thundering octaves and deft fingerwork satisfied the huge technical demands, she went beyond the notes to deliver a reading that was warm, affectionate and passionate.

Business Times, SINGAPORE

Recital – Newport Festival 1996

Turkish pianist dazzles crowd at The Breakers

Onay made her festival debut Sunday night, and lit up...read more

Onay made her festival debut Sunday night, and lit up The Breakers with her take-charge manner.

And did I mention she just might be one of the best pianists to set foot in Newport? And that's going some, considering the staggering talent the festival has attracted over the years.

A man sitting next to me had produced a series on the world's great pianists for public television some years ago, but wasn't prepared for Onay. "I've heard them all," he spluttered, "but I've never seen anything like this."

The petite pianist is an exciting performer, who launched into pieces the same way she stormed on stage. I don't think I've ever heard Mendelssohn's Serious Variations taken at such a blistering clip, or the C Minor Variations of Beethoven, for that matter.

But Onay’s playing was so natural, so to the point it didn't seem like grandstanding.

Why she is not better known in this country is hard to fathom, other than the fact promoters are unwilling to take a chance on pianists who aren't a sure bet at the box office - no matter how boring a sure bet.

It is too bad the turnout wasn't bigger for her recital here. That probably had as much to do with the concert falling on a Sunday as her lack of recognition. The pianists from the festival were out in force, though, curious to hear Onay in the flesh. And it would be hard to believe they were disappointed.

Onay put together a huge and taxing program. The first half contained enough music to keep most pianists busy for an entire evening - four sets of variations that included, besides the Beethoven and Mendelssohn, the Abegg Variations of Schumann and a set by the enigmatic Russian Nikolai Medtner.

After intermission, Onay sat down to a couple of piece by Turkish composer Ahmed Adnan Saygun (1907-1991), whose Op.15 Sonatine started out like Ravel but ended like Prokofiev, with a blazing toccata.

Then came Ravel's difficult Gaspard de la Nuit, which was a little off-the-wall in the final section, the portrait of the demonic Scarbo. But otherwise this was a stunning performance, with glittering runs and lush sonorities.

Onay returned for a coupe of encores, the first of which was a Chopinesque score unfamiliar to me and to a couple of pianists I button-holed. The second was Mozart's popular Rondo a la Turca - a rondo in the Turkish style from a remarkable Turkish pianist.

Channing Gray, Providence Journal-Bulletin, 16.7.1996, USA

Shostakovich Piano Concerto No.1 in C

Gülsin Onay / City of London Sinfonia – Andrew Watkinson

Electrifying, Wild Shostakovich

City of London Sinfonia and soloists delight the audience at the 8th master concert

The highest waves of the applause were rolling after the...read more

The highest waves of the applause were rolling after the music of the Russian composer. In fact the concerto for piano, trumpet and string orchestra by Shostakovich is one of the most electrifying creations of the contemporary literature. In a transparent setting and absolute thematic consistency, dreamy lyrical passages follow outbreaks of the wildest sort, marked by the avant-garde impetus.

These rather contrasting demands of expression were mastered by the Turkish soloist Gülsin Onay with complete superiority. She was able on one hand to sing sensitively on her piano with a soft touch and on the other hand she thundered sweeping passages and angular chord progressions with virtuosic sureness into the keys.

The orchestra, under the direction of their leader, Andrew Watkinson, conformed with her completely.

Hans Burkardt, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 23.4.1996, GERMANY

Shostakovich Piano Concerto No.1 in C

Gülsin Onay / City of London Sinfonia - Andrew Watkinson

... a thrillingly expressed interpretation of Shostakovich's Concerto ...read more

... a thrillingly expressed interpretation of Shostakovich's Concerto for piano, trumpet and strings, clearly proportioned with powerful grip and technical superiority

NU Ulm, GERMANY

Beethoven Piano Concerto No.4

Gülsin Onay / Orchestre Regionale de Cannes – Erich Bergel

It was a Beethoven happily in tune with the rest...read more

It was a Beethoven happily in tune with the rest of mankind that the pianist Gülsin Onay showed us, in perfect harmony with the conductor.

A flexible, light touch without slenderness, which created a personal poetic atmosphere, at the dawn of romanticism. A faithful rendering of the text, young, well-balanced, eloquent, equally sensible with the proud passages as in the soft ones and the dynamics, thanks to the malleability of the piano. A beautiful interpretation which earned two encores: a Bach-Busoni of benign energy and a Kodaly adorned with rich colours.

Aurore Busser, Nice-Matin, 30.3.1993, FRANCE

Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No.2

Gülsin Onay / Lubbock Symphony Orchestra – Gürer Aykal

In fact, two lengthy roars of thunder still could be...read more

In fact, two lengthy roars of thunder still could be heard at the theatre Friday. The first marked the thrilling performance of Saint-Saens's Concerto No.2 in G minor for Piano and Orchestra by visiting Turkish State Artist Gülsin Onay. The second roar was the spontaneous standing ovation that, barring an intermission, would have continued even long into the night.

Appearing in a beautiful red gown, she sat at the piano bench and completed an immediate forceful and fiery connection with the keyboard. Theatrics were present, but kept to a minimum, and Ms. Onay's concentration was itself thrilling as she maintained an incredible tempo, balancing strength with playfulness.

She appeared fatigued when she concluded the piece and then somewhat surprised as the audience refused to be seated, luring her out for four curtain calls before convincing her to sit again at the piano. A Rachmaninoff encore brought another standing ovation and, two bows later, she again was at the piano performing a sprightly Mozart composition.

William Kerns, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 26.10.1991, USA

Recital – Klavins-Klavier

Exciting Sound Gestures

The pianist Gülsin Onay at the "Klavins-piano"

There are a few pianists of extraordinary standing that we...read more

There are a few pianists of extraordinary standing that we have heard on the giant piano at Klavins's Piano House; but the recent performance by the Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay brought dimensions and qualities into play which had never been heard like this before here, and which were actually quite unexpected.

...sensational performance of Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit...; exciting sound gestures of elementary expressive force which are certainly part of the composer's idea of these fantastic figures.

Even in Bach (Partita in B-flat major), Gülsin Onay managed to bring out new dimensions of sound, and whoever is not absolutely attached to historical faithfulness had to agree with her use of the enormous volume of the instrument, full of fantasy and yet restrained as it was. It is remarkable how this context also puts Cesar Franck's enthusiasm for Bach into a new and plausible perspective (Prelude, Chorale et Fugue). His dense, compact piano style was freely structured and thus illuminated by the pianist who also stressed the organ-like character by emphasizing the bell-like bass chords.

All this was but a foreplay to the phenomenal interpretation of Ravel, preceded by the similarly masterful rendering of three pieces by Debussy. The Danse, with its constantly changing metrum, may have been especially close to Gülsin Onay's blood: the Turkish folklore has a lot of these 'uneven' rhythms, and they are frequently employed by composers like Bartok or her compatriot Saygun. The delicately served Jeux d'Eau then lead to Ravel's masterpiece which in this presentation will not be easily forgotten. Thundering applause of the fairly big audience,... two encores.

Gunter Duvenbeck, General-Anzeiger Bonn, 1.11.1990, GERMANY

Mozartfest Würzburg

Mozart Piano Concerto No.12 in A, KV 414

Gülsin Onay / Sinfonia Varsovia – Emmanuel Krivine

The highpoint of the evening was the piano concerto with...read more

The highpoint of the evening was the piano concerto with the Turkish soloist Gülsin Onay. As of the first movement Allegro she proved her sure feeling of tempo and a clear vision of formal structure. Her precise rapid passages, played like strings of pearls, were never overpowering but always integrated in the overall sound. The concordance of soloist and orchestra in the Andante may be called ideal. Gülsin Onay made the melody sing and vibrate with her never erring sense for the right balanced tempo and thanks to her well-thought-out phrasings. Her piano sound was intimate and animated.

She shaped her part with great delicacy, down to the minutest embellishments. Her interpretation of the final Allegretto went from a light, perfumed touch to fresh outbursts of temperament. Ovations thanked orchestra and pianist for wonderfully well-characterised, heavenly Mozart. It befit the soloist to play the Rondo alla turca as encore.

Main Post Zeitung für Unterfranken, 26.6.1990, GERMANY

Phenomenal... Transcendental virtuosity, personal charm.

Sensitive and profound touch.

Tagesspeigel Berlin, GERMANY


An entirely exceptional artist. One rarely finds such mastery of the means of expression.

New Spot, Brussels, BELGIUM